Men’s track and field returns tough team

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    By DREW PACKHAM

    The BYU men’s track and field team has reason to be excited for the upcoming 1999 season. After winning its ninth-straight indoor Western Athletic Conferance Championship last year, head coach Willard Hirschi says anything less than another trophy would be a disappointment.

    “We’ve got excellent people returning this year,” the 11th-year coach said. “On paper we could be better than last year’s team, but you never know until you actually go out there. There’s no reason we shouldn’t win the WAC.”

    While a team title is the priority, Hirschi was quick to point out that winning comes down to individual performance. Fortunately for Hirschi, the Cougars have a slew of bright stars ready to lead the charge.

    Leading the pack will be Leonard Myles-Mills, the defending national champion in the 100-meter dash. Myles-Mills won that title last spring and expects to be just as strong this year.

    “Defending my title will be my biggest goal,” he said. “You have to be mentally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually tuned if you want to win. I’m not stressed or worried about anything but having fun. It’s a new season so you never know what will happen.”

    Another returning member of the team is Kenneth Andam, last season’s WAC Freshman of the Year. He competes in the 55 and 200 meters, as well as long jump and triple jump. After winning the indoor long-jump title last year, he feels he should be ready to defend it this year.

    “I’m stronger than last year so it should be a good year for me,” Andam said. “I really expect to break the 26-foot mark in the long jump. I’m ready to make an impression, and I’m more mature this year. That maturity should help my marks.”

    Clayton Patch, a senior who runs the 400 meters, is also looking to repeat a great season. He ended last season ranked 10th nationally in the event and expects to do the same this year.

    “The season is really long so you just try to pace yourself,” Patch said. “I’m ready and the team’s been training really hard — really hitting the weights. It should be another dominating year for our team.”

    Domination is something the Cougars are familiar with. While other teams around the country highlight certain events, the Cougar squad is solid all-around. Along with its sprinters, the team is highlighted by several field athletes who excel in their events. Among these are Marc Chenn, who is nationally ranked in the high jump, and Jim Roberts, who competes in the shot and hammer throw. Others expected to help the team are Doug Bryant, also a shot thrower, and pole-vaulters Neil Jensen and Alan Gulledge.

    Hirschi said his team’s balance serves as more of a disadvantage than one would think.

    “The championship isn’t really representative of overall team strength,” he said. “We are a team with good people in every event and the point system is based more on individual marks. Either way, we’ve got a great squad and we work hard. It should be another great year.”

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